'Good Stories' Key to 2012

July 27, 2012

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

CHICAGO — It’s all about the stories that emerge for head coach Kirk Ferentz during the course of a football season. Generally when good stories arise, it equates to good things for the University of Iowa football program.

“It’s like in years past, we have a chance for some good stories,” said Ferentz at the 2012 Big Ten Media Day at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago. “If we’re going to have a good team, we’re going to need those good stories.”

One story that emerged a season ago was the play of first-year quarterback James Vandenberg, who threw for 3,022 yards and 25 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. With Vandenberg’s return, Ferentz says the Hawkeye offense will go with what works.

“We’ll play to our player’s strengths, and James is a proven veteran,” said Ferentz, the dean of the Big Ten coaches, entering his 14th season. “When we had Shonn Greene, we featured him, and Fred Russell was the same way.

“We’ll see how things materialize, but we don’t necessarily anticipate throwing the ball 80 percent of the time.”

When Vandenberg isn’t dropping back in the pocket, sophomores Damon Bullock and DeAndre Johnson are the first two candidates to handle the bulk of the duties. The pair combined for 99 yards (Johnson 79, Bullock 20) during the 2011 season.

Ferentz said who is in the backfield could dictate the way the Hawkeyes play.

“It depends on the back, everyone will have different strengths,” he said. “Bullock is probably a little better in the passing game than the running game, and DeAndre is the other way. We’ll see how it all shakes out when August comes around.”

Ferentz also said at least one of the true freshmen running backs — Greg Garmon or Barkley Hill — will see action.

“We have several positions with freshmen or first-year players getting an opportunity,” said Ferentz. “Running back might be the most obvious. We’ll know a lot more about Greg and Barkley in August.

“What it looks like today is going to be a lot different than it looks Sept. 1. There is a fair chance our team is going to look a lot different on Oct. 1.”

With Northwestern rolling out their new Under Armour uniforms, Ferentz said things could change regarding his stance on “special” uniforms.

“It’s kind of like spread offenses or 46 defenses, that is the sign of times,” he said. “We’re open to anything – offenses, special teams, uniforms, recruiting… all that stuff. We’ll try to figure out what fits us and our program.”

On the injury front, sophomore defensive back Jordan Lomax will likely miss the 2012 season after undergoing shoulder surgery, while junior linebacker Dakota Getz’s career is over due to numerous injuries.

Ferentz also said the Hawkeyes added 6-foot-3, 277 pound defensive lineman John Sawhill as a walk-on transfer from Drake University. The Jefferson, Iowa, native was second team all-conference in 2011 and an honorable mention selection in 2010.

The 2012 B1G Media Days conclude today in Chicago. Iowa opens the regular season Sept. 1, facing Northern Illinois at Soldier Field beginning at 2:30 p.m. (CT) on ESPNU.